Swiss women's "strike": a matter of justice

by Amandine Beffa last modified 19 June 2019 03:22 PM
Swiss women's "strike": a matter of justice

Photo: Gregoire de Fombelle/WCC

19 June 2019

For a long time, I thought that equality between men and women had been achieved and that the question of women’s rights was a whim.

I soon realised that being a woman was not the same thing as being a man.

I learned to make sure that my speech, acts and attitude were not provocative.

I learned that getting married meant that I would inevitably be serving my husband and my children, which would imply many sacrifices.

I was told that if a man was angry, it was because a woman had disrespected him and I knew that a wife never contradicts her husband.

When I started university, I was told: “It’s good that you’re studying so your husband won’t be ashamed of you, but you should know that your place is in the kitchen.” Later, I heard “You should know that if you do a thesis, you’ll stay single because men don’t like women with too many degrees.”

In recent years, people have often said to me: “Amandine, what a pity you’re a woman; you’re brilliant, you could do so much if you were a man.”

Deep down inside me, a voice was shouting that none of this was fair, but when I tried to talk about it, there was never a problem: the hurtful comments were jokes; to avoid being harassed, all you had to do was not get home too late or avoid certain places. And men and women are complementary, they have different roles to play in the family and in society.

Like many women in Switzerland, I had adopted a kind of norm: men are men, adapt your behaviour and you can be happy.

When the Women’s Strike was announced, it opened my eyes: not only had hundreds of women in Switzerland decided to say “stop”, but the movement was also backed by Amnesty International.

Suddenly, it wasn’t about my inner frustrations any more; an NGO that worked to defend human rights was getting involved and reminding me that women’s rights are… human rights.

Then I remembered the definition of justice that I learned in class: give everyone their rightful due. Wondering what I was entitled to wasn’t my little affair any longer: it was a matter of justice.

I joined the strike on 14 June for two reasons:

First, because you may not agree on everything, but it is essential to open a dialogue.

Second, because all too often, women create obstacles for themselves, force themselves to only be…  men. There is an urgent need for them to dare to live.

Because in the final analysis, remember: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen 1:27

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The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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